The Other Side of Freedom of Expression

A controversial art is currently being exhibited in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Most Catholics condemn the exhibit, which shows a male organ in the face of Jesus, among other equally disturbing depictions. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos called it blasphemous. The work by Mideo Cruz is called “Poleteismo.” Objectively, I am trying to figure out what Cruz is trying to convey through the collage. From the title itself, perhaps he was trying to show that people make gods out of persons, objects, or even sex in place of the real God.

Although I am not a Catholic, I don’t think it was appropriate for Cruz to present his message in that manner. Let alone exhibit it under the roof of the Cultural Center of the Philippines because it runs contrary to the mission statement of the institution. Seriously, I do not see any positive Filipino cultural identity that this exhibit promotes to the whole world.

I also don’t think it would be any help to discuss whether or not the exhibit is an art. What is art, anyway? The definition is subjective and the debate will never end. From the legal standpoint, the exhibit is protected by the freedom of expression, which I also happen to freely exercise under the Constitution of the Philippines. I guess this is the reason why the CCP has not taken steps to remove the exhibit.

The necessary implication of the freedom of expression demands that we also respect other people’s right to express their garbage even though this may sound unacceptable to so many people. It must also be kept in mind that the freedom of expression is not an absolute freedom. I’m just saying the CCP should talk to Cruz amicably, ask him to exhibit his “art” some place else, and not use the taxpayer-funded institution.

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